Am I being bullied? What can I do to prevent it?

Am I being bullied? What can I do to prevent it?

Sadly, the topic of bullying in the workplace or being bullied by a manager is much more common than we would like to think.

We should all take responsibility to do what we can to stamp out bullying.  Workers should feel supported to speak up if they are being bullied or if they see someone being bullied.

First of all it is really important to be aware of what bullying is and isn’t.

What is workplace bullying?

When a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers and that behaviour creates a risk to their health and safety.

Unreasonable behaviour can be victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening a person. Examples of bullying include:

  • unreasonable work demands
  • shouting or behaving aggressively towards someone
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events
  • pressure to not take time off for health
  • pressure to work late all of the time

What bullying isn’t

Management action that’s carried out in a reasonable way is not bullying.

A supervisor or manager can talk to a worker about poor performance, they can direct and control the way work is performed and take disciplinary action if they need to.

If management action isn’t carried out in a reasonable way, it may be considered bullying.

How is bullying different to discrimination?

Discrimination happens when action is taken because of a person’s characteristics like their race, religion or sex.

Bullying quite often isn’t related to the person or group’s characteristics.

What can be done to prevent bullying?

Bullying and harassment not only devastates its victims but it can divide employees with the possibility of these actions affecting the overall proficiency of an organisation. I have encountered senior managers that have ignored and actually encouraged such behaviour by groups of people or individuals.

Three key things to implement in your organisation to prevent bulling are;

  • Develop a workplace culture that has a zero tolerance of bullying and harassment.
  • Managers trained to display the behaviour that is expected of everyone.
  • Have clear workplace policies and regularly conduct associated awareness training.

Having a great workplace culture encourages collaboration and support and discourages harassing and bullying behaviour. This is the workplace that people want to work in.

A workplace culture of zero tolerance of bullying and bad behaviour needs to be adopted and implemented with strong leadership, on-going management and full employee awareness.

If you think someone is being harassed or bullied, ask them if they are OK.  Speak up and report it or encourage them to report it and provide them with support.


Karen Hillen

HR support and advice services to all other areas across Australia Mailing Address PO Box 458, HELENSBURGH NSW 2508 Phone 1 300 662 3991 / 0423 201 321 Email


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